Two books by Heyday Press paired together in this review to make compelling bookends for the native experience in California’s Sierra. “Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California” just published and “Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills” from 2005 combine to provide images, first-person accounts, and a sly coyote’s commentary from within the trusted circle of native friends.
We have friends visiting from the East Coast who have never been to San Francisco. This begs the question, what would you want to share in this mythical city if you only had one day?
Of course, there are the tour book favorites, which are all so crowded that you can barely see your own feet (or so it seems at times), but what else? Where are the less known places that might not be found?
These are the questions I asked myself after some decades of mixed wandering and residency in the city by the bay.
First off, my personal choice is to NOT follow the tour books unless you love crowds and feeling like a lemming. Look for local neighborhoods, which have their own flavor. Sure, yes, there are a few exceptions and even the “offbeat sites” are well-trafficked.
Note: These are a few tips for straight-up quick sightseeing—maybe I’ll write in the future about hikes, literature, neighborhoods, and art. Been there, done that? No worries, on to the next experience to sample.
Here are a few places that might get missed:
The Marina District is at the edge of the city and as such, offers great views and sea breezes, easy access to any major thoroughfare and highways, too. Let’s start there.
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge Why not? You can catch a cab back on the other side. The view in the middle is remarkable and totally free.
And then there’s North Beach… Fill in some history with culture by dropping by City Lights Bookstore and then making your way down the street to Cafe Zoetrope where you can perhaps try meatballs made from Francis Ford Coppola’s mother’s recipe. Too bad if you are on a non-dairy diet because the tiramisu is divine.
The building itself has a fantastic history, and Coppola provides access to Zoetrope All-Story by way of a printing machine near the bar (need to confirm—may not still be there).
Coit Tower Coit Tower can be seen from many vantage points and it is arguably worth doing the many stairs to just stand there once, but the real reward is the murals done as WPA projects.
If you still have a little time left, put your feet up and take in the view with a pricey beverage in hand, at the rooftop bar at the Proper Hotel, Charmaine’s. This is new to me and let me know what you think.
PS—I avoid Ghiradelli, Union Square, Pier 39, and Fisherman’s Wharf—so many other delights that are less populated, not to say these spots don’t have their own wonders if time allows.
Any favorites to add? What would you want to share? Drop me a note at email@example.com
The 2021 Toronto Women’s Film Festival selected “An Evening with Ellen” for its monthly online viewing in May 2021—an unexpected and very pleasant surprise…
The Famous Marching Presidents produced this film in 2020 to honor suffrage leader Ellen Clark Sargent.
All cast and crew are Nevada County residents. The film features actor Mary Baird and businessman Rick Ewald. The original screenplay was written and directed by Pamela Biery. Earles of Newtown generously provided the fitting music, with their original work Broad Street Suite.
View the video and learn more about Nevada County history here.
Watch for details on the upcoming Constitution Day weekend here.
Note:Watch for an upcoming exclusive series of special video talks by Dream State author San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle hosted by TheOnyxTheatre.com. Book review follows.
Mick LaSalle’s new book, Dream State, California in the Movies, is a revealing journey into the psyche of California as it is reflected in cinema. Longtime San Francisco film critic Mick LaSalle has a knack for getting to the story behind the story and this book is full of great perceptions of just what California cinema expresses both intentionally and unintentionally through its film industry.
Dream State is a methodical examination of how California appears in film, from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a wonderfully witty narrative on just how many ways we can see the Golden Gate Bridge being destroyed. With chapters that take on the myth-making behind the Wizard of Oz and the dark underbelly of Film Noir, the reader begins to sense that Hollywood is both vacuous and deliciously full at the same moment, and this moment is a uniquely California moment, made possible at least in part, by a beautiful, mild and changeable climate where life just looks a bit more glamorous before the cameras start rolling.
For those who like to go below the surface of film, Dream State is a must read. LaSalle’s career as a film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle provides him with a steady flow of apt observations and most importantly, the connective tissue that is implied or perhaps hinted at as both cultural and cinematic references. One aspect that emerges as a theme is the dissonance between perception and reality as perpetuated through cinema–not the obvious, but rather the moments that tend to go largely unrecognized but have great influence, which LaSalle is near genius at identifying.
There are dozens of films mentioned, each presented with unconventional rarely discussed viewpoints. The eleven chapters include distinctly different time generations and genres, examining how Pearl Harbor is portrayed then and now, as well as Romance and Utopian visions. This is not a book of reviews or even in a certain sense, the in-depth discussion of individual films, but rather a closer look at what we rarely examine in terms of the culture itself as seen through the mirror of California cinema. LaSalle gives us a bit of American history as well as anthropological insights and a totally unique set of mind-opening perceptions.
In a broader sense, Dream State is about America and the values America chooses to portray through cinema and this too, is cast with an eye to historical context, examining how events like World War II, Woodstock, and 911 have shaped what we see on the screen and how this informs and reinforces that which is permissible and that which either by production code or implication, falls beyond the pale and shifts over time.
Dream State provides unique insights on what it means to be in California and why and who has been drawn to this seemingly superficial oasis of tempting promises fulfilled, along with the implied illusions Hollywood offers that vanish when the theatre lights come back on and the credits roll.
Locals in Nevada County, watch for upcoming videos, and know that The Onyx Theatre is looking forward to seeing you very soon!
≈ Comments Off on The California Field Atlas: California’s Ecology Explained and Prosaically Painted
The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufmann has been referred to as a ‘love letter to California.’ Perhaps this is not quite enough. This book is an unabashed, outspoken love letter written by someone who knows the nooks and crannies of this spectacularly diverse state and has the visual and scientific vocabulary to articulate California’s ecology.
The California Field Atlas provides a mix of geology, biology and natural history presented both factually and through beautifully expressive watercolors, calligraphy and prose—a rare view that is both humanistic and optimistic.
What it does not provide are directions, specific travel maps or any sort of guide reference. This book is for exceptional not mundane observations and as such, offers an inspirational and uniquely quirky travel companion.
If you have ever wandered into a place and wondered about how it came to be just like it is—trees, biology, landform, etc.— then perhaps The California Field Atlas might be your reference to better understand and appreciate California’s natural splendor.
The Deluxe Edition, released in November 2020, has a durable hard bound cover with gold foil seal and ribbon bookmark. Filled with maps, scientific insights and comparative county by county data, Kaufmann gives the reader much more than lovely images to absorb. Grappling with the climate crisis may best be done from an appreciative understanding of place, with a look over our shoulder to the past and a sobering concept of what science indicates for our future. Kaufmann provides both perspectives.
It goes to reason, that we protect what we love, and we love what we understand, and yes, we understand what we are taught. Obi Kaufmann’s hybrid form of art and science, co-opted under the title ‘field atlas’ surely helps us both better understand and love the rare and relatively fragile place that is California.
His publisher describes that
for Kaufmann, the epic narrative of the California backcountry holds enough art, science, mythology, and language for a hundred field atlases to come.
This month I took some time to reflect on how much a community can do together. I assembled the photos I took over the year during “An Evening with Ellen”.
“An Evening with Ellen” started with actor Mary Baird and non-profit sponsor The Famous Marching Presidents and grew and gained momentum throughout 2020…best of all, it kept me creatively engaged during 2020.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
Ellen Clark Sargent was a prominent suffrage leader and resident of Nevada City, where she founded one of the early West Coast Suffrage organizations in 1869. She worked tirelessly to secure women’s voting rights with her entire family for four decades. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in 2020, the Famous Marching Presidents produced an original play, “An Evening with Ellen,” highlighting Ellen Clark Sargent and the Nineteenth Amendment.
This original work, written by Pamela Biery, is set in an interview format. Actor Mary Baird portrays Ellen Sargent, while Nevada City businessman, Rick Ewald interviews Ellen, from a present-day perspective. Terry Boyer provides the master of ceremonies role, setting the tone for this lively interaction.
Nevada City California resident Ellen Clark Sargent was a close friend and ally to Susan B. Anthony. Sargent served as both treasurer and secretary of National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA); an organization founded by Susan B. Anthony. Ellen Sargent also was president of the California Woman Suffrage Association and founded the Nevada County Women Suffrage Association. She was a key figure in eventually combining East and West Coast efforts into a unified organization, which later became the League of Women Voters.
Adding to the context of this original, historically accurate work, the video was filmed at the Nevada City Odd Fellows Lodge Temple, where Aaron Sargent, who authored the Nineteenth Amendment, was a founding member in 1863.
Donate to making this project and curriculum materials available free to public, including schools here gf.me/u/x8in5b
Request a password protected link to view this video on Vimeo by emailing pamela[at]pamelab.com
Released over the summer of 2020, Everyday We Get More Illegal highlights social issues and the growing divide between American citizens. While this book speaks specifically to the plight of immigrants, and the current US policy, it also gives a voice to anyone who feels marginalized. “Everyday” provides pivotal insights. Herrera reminds us that words are a political tool and he uses his words powerfully, hopefully, and without softening the edges of harsh realities.
Herrera’s writing pedigree includes being named California’s poet laureate in 2012, and the U.S. poet laureate in 2015. These accolades come in addition to numerous awards and previously published works. Everyday We Get More Illegal was highly anticipated and does not disappoint.
Whether painting a word-picture through dialogue with a young son separated from his deported father, or recognizing essential workers’ constant contributions through labor—Herrera’s language penetrates the reader’s psyche, not brutally, but respectfully asking for reflection, consideration and remembrance. Herrera chronicles a lesser seen America that it is time to see, feel and make tangible.
Many poems in “Everyday” contain the rhythm of a conversation. The book is organized into poems collected under the common term for migrants, fireflies. In this case, Fireflies on the Road North.
Like most exceptional poetry and prose, these works may perhaps land on the reader’s feelings, touching on direct experience and also, giving light to scenes often acted out in the darkness of forgetting.
Address for the Firefly #6 On the Road North:
here a river — you can stop you can bathe & rest
you can meditate on water & stones & the flow
you can note
the breath sound
of all our lives
–Juan Felipe Herrera, from Every Day We Get More Illegal
Used with permission, Copyright 2020 City Lights Books
Every Day We Get More Illegal
Juan Felipe Herrera
City Lights, $14.95 trade paper (88p)
Release date: 07/01/2020
Hear Juan Felipe Herrera read from Every Day We Get More Illegal at LitQuake 2020
The Forests of California, by Obi Kaufmann, released in September 2020 by Heyday Books
Obi Kaufmann, who brought us The California Field Atlas (#1 San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller) presents another major work, The Forests of California. This is the third of six books in Kaufmann’s planned series exploring the state’s diverse environment and is the first of his planned “California Lands” trilogy.
An atlas is a collection of maps, illustrations and text. A field atlas is designed to be used in the ‘field’ as an ongoing resource, and Kaufmann gives us something rich, distinctive and fascinating. Dive in wherever you like to find a page that engages and keeps you turning more pages, or if you prefer, stop to learn more about a specific forest or tree in California. This book is not just a reference tool, but could be seen as an invitation to think differently about habitat, vegitative alliances and the hope we can hold through better understanding of our relationship to place.
Colfax Area Farms Add Great Sources of Food, Natural Beauty & Fulfilling Lifestyles
Note: Every so often I write an article that takes an unexpected shape through the development process. The farmers that I interviewed for this article, originally published in the Auburn Journal, are so inspiring in the manner in which they are carving out a sustainable lifestyle, and in doing so, helping to transform our rural communities, I am sharing it again here.
As fall comes around, for farmers, it’s time to pull in the crops, prepare for winter and evaluate the season past, but not before celebrating the bounty of fall harvest.
The Colfax area is blessed with a cluster of organic farms, giving people the opportunity to visit a farm stand or farmer’s market, get food harvested the day of purchase and come to know those who are dedicated to growing the food eaten daily—a rare opportunity.
“We are young farmers. We left our work in the recreation industry at Tahoe, looking for something with more substance. After working for several years with an established organic farm, we started Foothill Roots in 2012. We are committed to the local community and are grateful to be growing not just crops, but local sustainability.”—Patrick Bolinger, Foothill Roots Farm, Meadow Vista native
Part of the good news of local, organically grown food is the increasing trend for a younger generation to choose this meaningful and rewarding way of life over faster-paced urban lifestyles. This is providing new jobs and ways to contribute to rural communities which have historically seen young adults leave in search of jobs. Not only are these farms creating their own jobs and lifestyles, but they also employ and train others, adding to the positive impact of local farms. Retirees, like Rick and Jackie Brown of Meadow Vista Flower and Berry Farm, now enjoy their passion for gardening full time.
Bierwagen’s Donner Trail Fruit and Farm Market is a fourth-generation farm just outside of Colfax, which has also seeded a new farm, Pharis Farms in Chicago Park. Stone’s Throw Farm is run by an eighth-generation farmer and his wife, who graduated from Colfax High School, returning after college and a professional career. Foothill Roots Farm sees a Meadow Vista native returning to his community.
“We left city life. We are neighbors. We invest in each other, in a beautiful circle of interdependence. This farm is a source of regeneration. We are deeply connected to feeding people, it feels similar to counseling, in that it is nurturing and essential.”—Bryanna Eisenhut, Stone’s Throw Farm, re-careered social worker, current organic farmer, Colfax native